Re: Upgrading after the fact with media when I feel like it
"Makes me wonder if one could make a full system image (backup or third-party,) upgrade and activate 10. Then restore the Windows 7 image (why not revert from 10?"
My experience is that a machine with OEM SLiC activation gives you a bit of leeway. I have a fair stack of Dell T5500 and T3500 workstations that I have been upgrading. This is for clients who still run Windows 7 specific software, but wanted to bank the digital entitlement for later use.
Cloning the hard drives (using dd under *nix) and then running the update on the cloned drive activated fine. As did a drive cloned from one machine, and used for digital activation in another machine. All using a Dell OEM windows 7 activation. This meant I could clone in the first machine I upgraded, transfer the cloned drive to a new machine for upgrade, and gradually expand this across a number of machines.
Once the digital entitlement is active for a machine, you can re-install a clean windows 7 (format the upgraded drive) and the machine activates with the correct windows 10 version (Pro, in this case). These old Dell workstations are quite nice (great rock solid boxes), because you can turn a drive on or off in the bios, so each machine is back running with the original windows 7 setup, but with a clean activated windows 10 installation ready to be enabled via bios. I've also done this process of cloning the drive with laptops and other machines, and it seems to work appropriately for qualifying versions of the previous windows OS for both windows 10 home and pro.
It would seem that it's a relatively flexible process, with Microsoft happier to have you in the fold, rather than deny you a license.
As for using windows versus linux - I started in the CP/M era. It constantly amazes me how intellectual property law has been used to take a slew of innovations that were previously shared for greater good, to being protected so that they could be mined. Instead of the hardware being the product, the software now is. Microsoft are at the centre of monetising the software, and they want to be at the centre of monetising services. They are nothing like the best at any of it, but they have most enterprise support, because they build in the most chargeable layers.
If you install clean, put all the customised settings to "off" and don't let cortana search for anything....then windows 10 works okay. It takes an age to boot and it's slow as hell at stuff though. If you don't believe that then put something like cub linux on the same machine instead.
I owe my working life to the crippling of users capability. I'm amazed that some people appear to have only just noticed. This isn't a new windows 10 thing.